Peterborough Chase Tips: Dolos can strike at Cheltenham

Peterborough Chase Tips: Paul Nicholls last won this Grade 2 contest in 2004.
Peterborough Chase Tips: Paul Nicholls last won this Grade 2 contest in 2004.

Derby Award winner Nick Seddon takes a look at Friday’s rearranged Peterborough Chase, which will now take place at Cheltenham after the abandonment of Huntingdon at the weekend…

While the abandonment of Sunday’s card at Huntingdon due to flooding was disappointing, their loss is Cheltenham’s gain, and the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase has nestled quite nicely into the card for the first day of its International Meeting.

Run over two and a half miles, the race is regularly won by horses who go on to be key players in next year’s Ryanair Chase, and with that in mind, this year’s race could prove to be even more useful than usual as a Cheltenham Festival pointer.

One resemblance to Huntingdon that remains is the fact that we will at least have a similar line-up to Sunday’s race, and six of the eight entries from the weekend have been re-routed to Gloucestershire on Friday - with only Al Dancer, Nuts Well and Forest Bihan opting to head elsewhere.

Cheltenham Festival Races

Heading the market for the original running was Fanion D’Estruval, and he’s at the forefront of the betting once again for the Venetia Williams team, for all that he has to share favouritism with two others this time around. He’s made just three starts on these shores since switching to the yard from France, and looked a horse to follow when winning a novices' handicap in impressive style on British debut last November.

He struggled on his only other start last term, finishing fifth at this level at Kempton, but got back on track when second in a competitive handicap at Cheltenham last month, and he can't be discounted here with the possibility of more to come from him yet - though this looks a tough ask.

Also prominent in the market are Kalashnikov and Top Notch, with the latter bidding for a third win in this contest. Top Notch has regularly fallen just short at the top level during his career, but he's an effective performer at Grade 2 level, picking up four wins which include successes in this race in 2017 (at Taunton) and 2019.

He has to shoulder a penalty here by virtue of the latter of those, but his claims are very difficult to knock and he’ll be a big threat if up to scratch on reappearance. However, it’s worth noting that he has tended to need his first outing of the season during his career, and is passed over at the prices as a consequence.

Meanwhile, Kalashnikov didn’t feature on the original billing, and was added into the mix when the race was re-opened. He hasn’t got his nose in-front since winning the 2019 Manifesto Novices’ Chase at Aintree, but he’s a smart type, and shaped well in some tough assignments last season, including when second in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree. He struggled on his final start of the campaign when fifth of six in the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury in February, but that came over two miles and he will be suited by the extra distance here. He’ll arrive here fit after a satisfactory spin over hurdles at Haydock last month, and in receipt of 6 lb from Top Notch, he ought to go close.

Cheltenham Festival Tips

Three more to consider are Mister Fisher, Bun Doran and Glen Forsa. The first-named was a very smart novice last season, winning a Grade 2 contest at Doncaster in January before finishing fourth in the Marsh Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. He has to shoulder a 3 lb penalty for that Graded success, and certainly has every chance here bearing in mind that he's open to more improvement yet after just five starts over fences to date. However, he disappointed with his effort on reappearance in the Paddy Power Gold Cup over course and distance last month, and he’ll need plenty more for win purposes - for all that he’d have every chance if running to his best.

Meanwhile, Bun Doran recorded a career-best effort when winning the Grade 2 Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton last season, but he’s struggled since, and this looks no easier under a 6 lb penalty for that success. Another with plenty on his plate is Glen Forsa, who is a smart performer on his day, but has completed just once in his last four outings, and was soon beaten on reappearance in last month's Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter. 

One who's of more interest is Clondaw Castle, who along with Kalashnikov was added to to mix for this earlier in the week. Having finished fourth in the Arkle Trophy in 2019, he shaped well in three starts in handicap company last term, winning a valuable event at Warwick in February. He looked better than ever when winning a similarly competitive affair over this kind of trip at Newbury last month, and it's interesting that his connections have opted to send him here instead of Saturday's Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. He's a progressive type, and it would be no surprise to see him go well on these terms - which see him receive weight from a couple of his main market rivals. 

However, it looks worth siding with Dolos, who represents the Paul Nicholls operation. You have to go back to 2004 to find the last time that Nicholls won this race, though in Dolos he can boast the highest-rated chaser on official ratings in this year's renewal. The seven-year-old is a smart performer on his day, and consistently runs well in some competitive handicaps, picking up a trio of valuable wins over the last couple of years at Sandown and Kempton respectively. He ran with plenty of credit to finish fourth under top weight in a similarly competitive affair here in October, and will arrive here fit as a consequence. The Nicholls string are in fine form at the moment, and bearing in mind that he ran well here last time out, Dolos appeals as a rock solid option at around the 13/2 mark to pick up some more prize money for the yard.

Selection

Peterborough ChaseCheltenham, Friday 11th December - back Dolos at 13/2

Peterborough Chase
Dolos silk

Dolos

lost
Cheltenham Gold Cup
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